7 Things You’re Probably Doing Wrong Every Morning

Are you committing these seven sins of morning productivity? Stop! And watch your mornings get a little less chaotic.

1. The bad news? Getting ready for work in the morning sucks. The good news? It can suck less.

You get out of bed 20 minutes after your alarm, can’t find your keys and, just as you leave the house, your phone’s battery dies so you can’t contact your office to tell them you’ll be late for your first meeting. Sound familiar?

We’ve all had crazy mornings like this, and they’re not fun. Not only is your morning screwed, but the stress and adrenaline usually hangs around the whole day, making it hard to focus and get things done. These tips won’t transform mornings into a calming oasis of relaxation—not sure what could do that, but if you find out, let me know—but they can make your routine less painful.

1. You’re not checking your email and calendar the night before. Take five minutes and look at your email and schedule before you go to bed. The easiest way to sink your morning is to realize you didn’t leave enough time to make a just-scheduled early meeting, or that you didn’t respond to an urgent email sent the night before.

2. You’re not listening to Mom. When you were a kid your mom told you to choose your clothes before you went to sleep. She was right. Bonus? If you followed Tip 1 and checked your schedule, you’ll be able to pick an appropriate outfit for the next day.

3. You’re leaving your car keys (or work badge, or phone, or bus card) in a different place each night. Some of the most intelligent people I know commit this cardinal sin of morning efficiency. Leave your essentials in one place and one place only. You should not be wasting time each morning hunting for them. There is no excuse for not doing this.

4. You’re hitting snooze. Look, I understand this one. Your bed is warm, comfortable and inviting, and the morning is cold, busy and daunting. So you hit snooze a few times. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that you end up getting out of bed too late, making you rushed. So if you’re going to snooze, you need to plan ahead. Set your alarm 15 minutes early so you can snooze without screwing up your schedule.

5. You’re eating breakfast. What? But everything ever written since the history of writing tells us breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Relax, relax. We’re not saying you should skip breakfast. But choose wisely. On any given Wednesday, you simply don’t need a spinach and goat cheese frittata. Invest in some English muffins, yogurt-to-go and some bananas, and save the fancy grub for the weekend.

6. You’re watching the news. We get it – news is important, and it’s part of the morning ritual for millions of people. But watching the news is a crucial mistake. Why? Because watching the news usually means sitting down on your couch. And guess what? Your couch has the same gravitational pull as your bed, and once you’re there it’s hard to get up. In the mornings, when time is precious, don’t sit down to get your fix. Instead, listen to the radio while you get ready. It’s just as informative – usually more informative – and twice as efficient.

7. You don’t have a mental checklist. Getting ready for work in the morning is not something to be taken lightly. Make and memorize a mental list of things you need to take with you: keys, wallet, phone (fully charged the night before), gym gear, whatever. Just before you leave, take 10 seconds to check you have everything. It’s easy to quickly grab your gym bag while you’re still at home; it’s harder once you’re already on the subway.

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